Christmas is somewhat of a strange season. Some people love Christmas, and others hate it. There may be a Santa Claus on the roof of one house, and baby Jesus in a manger at the house next door, or both in the same yard. The season is filled with special events and sacred worship services.
For some people, it is a solemn time of reflection on life and the past year; for others, it is a time to party. We are encouraged to consume in every way possible, to buy at massive levels while we celebrate the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth who gave Himself for our sake. We celebrate Jesus, who was not a consumer by any means, by consuming.
Let’s stop for a moment in the midst of all this irony and think about the message of Christmas. Today is not about the story of Christmas or the words of Christmas or the images of Christmas, but the message of Christmas. The message of Christmas is found throughout the entire Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The message is the Gospel, and one of the clearest, most concise summaries of the message of Christmas is found in the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14
This is the message of Christmas: Jesus came to bring us light and life. That light shines in darkness but the darkness does not comprehend it. Jesus was not simply born on what we call Christmas – He came. His coming was intentional, purposeful, and planned. Jesus, who existed from the beginning of time and who created all things that have come into being, came to bring us life. The apostle Paul wrote something similar to the Colossians:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:13-17
This is the Jesus who came to us as a child. The theme of God bringing light into darkness begins in Genesis. In Genesis 1:1-4, we read that the world was created formless and void and darkness covered the earth. Then God created LIGHT – He created light, He saw the light and said it was good, and He separated light from darkness so there could be life. When He created man and woman, God said that it was very good.
Adam and Eve walked in that light, in the daily and constant presence of their Creator and God who provided for their every need, and life was good. In that garden, there was no sorrow, no war, no disease, no pain, no jealousy, no fire storms, no hurricanes, no mental illness, no loneliness, no wayward children, no betrayal. There were no false hopes, only the light of God – His presence and glory filled their minds and emotions. Walking in the light is a really good thing, and Jesus came to bring light into the darkness.
Tempted by a being whose sole intent was to rob God of His glory by destroying man, God’s greatest creation, darkness entered the world. Adam stepped out of the light and into darkness, seeking to make himself like God. Darkness, sin, and death entered the world.
Darkness by definition is an absence of light. What does light have to do with darkness? Light illuminates, reveals, guides, brings truth, gives hope and creates life. Darkness is shifty, full of fear, death, destruction, depression, and deception. Man’s perfect relationship with his creator was severed because darkness and light cannot coexist. Our relationship with God was severed in the garden.
Sin causes death, but God made a way. The Bible tells us that God is not only light but is also love and life, and He made a way for Adam and Eve. God clothed them in animal skins, a sacrifice to cover their sin. This was a picture of what was to come: God would deal with darkness and sin, and would provide a way out of the darkness and back into the light through Jesus.
God continued to show His light and give life throughout the Old Testament. He delivered Noah and his family out of dark times. He broke through the darkness and brought life while promising never to destroy the world by flood again through the rainbow. He made a covenant with Abraham, promising that his descendants would be a blessing to all nations, and He brought life to a very old man and woman through Isaac.
He brought forth life to a nation while in captivity in Egypt and then led that nation to freedom and to their own land in Israel. On that journey through the wilderness, He gave them life through water from rocks and manna from the dew. He proclaimed His goodness as the light and life of mankind through His prophets:
O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Psalm 43:3
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. Isaiah 60:19
And finally, God communicated through Jesus. Fully man and fully God, Jesus is the one and only true light. As we read in John’s Gospel, Jesus was the life and light of man. The light came into the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. And the world today still does not comprehend the light.
In this last year, there has been great division and hate in our country between races, class and ideals. We have had horrible mass shootings, we are in an addiction crisis, suicide is on the rise, and we’ve seen a complete abandonment of truth in our country. Darkness has overtaken this country.
Jesus’ plan is for His light to shine through us in this dark world. His plan is that our light would shine, and that others would see Him in us. But so often, followers of Jesus have quenched that light. We quench that light in our own lives because our flesh prefers darkness, and so the world doesn’t see Jesus.
Many of us are experiencing discouragement, depression, identity crisis… we are being consumed by sin because we’ve chosen to live in the darkness and not in the light. Most of us in this room have heard about Jesus. But most of us have also chosen to walk in the darkness because we think it has more to offer us. We wonder why we aren’t experiencing more of Jesus, but darkness and light cannot coexist. We have to make a choice.
There are two kingdoms in the Bible: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, and they don’t commingle. There’s not even a question of who will win this battle: Light consumes darkness, and Jesus said, “It is finished.” We want to say we live in the light, and yet we walk in the darkness. And so the rest of the world doesn’t see the light of Jesus because we’re not letting it shine through us.
In Jesus there is life, and that life is the light of men. Jesus said He came that we might have life more abundantly. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). So how are we living our lives? Are we living out the message of Christ at Christmas?
As a child, do you remember being afraid of the dark? Turning on the light dispels fear and anxiety and uncertainty. We cannot change the world or predict where it’s going, but we know the one who has the world in His hands. If we walk in the light, it dispels those fears of the future and the uncertainty of this world.
Walking in the light dispels the shadows, the unknown, the fear of uncertainty. Walking in the light gives us the confidence that the darkness is just a shadow. So this Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus, who is life and light. He came to light our path, dispel the darkness, guide us into truth, and give us hope and peace. In his letter, John writes this:
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
The message of Christmas is that Jesus came to bring us life, and that life is the light of men. So this season, don’t let that pass you by. His mercies are new everyday, and today you can decide to walk in the light and experience the fullness of life. Today we can all make the decision to walk in the light because Jesus left glory to bring us light and life.